The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of t

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Simon and Schuster, May 11, 2010 - History - 272 pages
There may not be a more fascinating a historical period than the late fourteenth century in Europe. The Hundred Years' War ravaged the continent, yet gallantry, chivalry, and literary brilliance flourished in the courts of England and elsewhere. It was a world in transition, soon to be replaced by the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration -- and John of Gaunt was its central figure.

In today's terms, John of Gaunt was a multibillionaire with a brand name equal to Rockefeller. He fought in the Hundred Years' War, sponsored Chaucer and proto-Protestant religious thinkers, and survived the dramatic Peasants' Revolt, during which his sumptuous London residence was burned to the ground. As head of the Lancastrian branch of the Plantagenet family, Gaunt was the unknowing father of the War of the Roses; after his death, his son usurped the crown from his nephew, Richard II. Gaunt's adventures represent the culture and mores of the Middle Ages as those of few others do, and his death is portrayed in The Last Knight as the end of that enthralling period.

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User Review  - woakden - LibraryThing

It seemed like the editor of this book didn't do a very good job. I did really like the style of writing, it was very accessible and read more like a story than a history book. Read full review

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This book was one of the few that was so painful to read that I had to put it down. The writing style was irritating in a way that I cannot describe, however I can confirm that I simply hated this book. Read full review


Introduction i
The Great Families
Plantagenet England

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Page 90 - France came in sight of the English, his blood began to boil, and he cried out to his marshals, "Order the Genoese forward, and begin the battle, in the name of God and St. Denis.
Page 90 - When the Genoese were somewhat in order, and approached the English, they set up a loud shout, in order to frighten them; but they remained quite still, and did not seem to attend to it. They then set up a second shout, and advanced a little forward; but the English never moved.
Page 89 - The English, who were drawn up in three divisions, and seated on the ground, on seeing their enemies advance, rose undauntedly up, and fell into their ranks. That of the prince was the first to do so, whose archers were formed in the manner of a portcullis, or harrow, and the men-at-arms in the rear. The Earls of Northampton and Arundel, who commanded the second division, had posted themselves in good order on his wing, to assist and succor the prince, if necessary. You must know, that these kings,...
Page 91 - The first division, seeing the danger they were in, sent a knight in great haste to the king of England, who was posted upon an eminence, near a windmill. On the knight's arrival, he said, " Sir, the Earl of Warwick, the Lord Reginald Cobham, and the others who are about your son, are vigorously attacked by the French ; and they entreat that you would come to their assistance with your battalion, for, if their numbers should increase, they fear he will have too much to do.
Page 92 - Welsh, and slain in spite of their prowess. The earl of St. Pol and the earl of Auxerre were also killed, as well as many others. Late after vespers, the king of France had not more about him than sixty men, every one included. Sir John of Hainault, who was of the number, had once remounted the king; for his horse had been killed under him by an arrow: he said to the king, "Sir, retreat while you have an opportunity, and do not expose yourself so simply : if you have lost this battle, another time...
Page 91 - Now, Sir Thomas, return back to those that sent you, and tell them from me, not to send again for me this day, or expect that I shall come, let what will happen, as long as my son has life; and say, that I command them to let the boy win his spurs; for I am determined, if it please God, that all the glory and honor of this day shall be given to him, and to those into whose care I have intrusted him.
Page 169 - ... a true and worthy man, prophesying things useful to the commons of the kingdom and telling of wrongs and oppressions done to the people by the king and the aforesaid ministers...
Page 91 - English, and were there slain, as well as many other knights and squires that were attending on or accompanying them. The earl of Blois, nephew to the king of France, and the duke of Lorraine, his brother-in-law, with their troops, made a gallant defence; but they were surrounded by a troop of English and Welsh, and slain in spite of their prowess. The earl of St Pol and the earl of Auxerre were also killed, as well as many others. Late after vespers, the king of France had not more about him than...
Page 90 - During this time a heavy rain fell, accompanied by thunder and a very terrible eclipse of the sun; and before this rain a great flight of crows hovered in the air over all those battalions, making a loud noise. Shortly afterwards it cleared up, and the sun shone very bright; but the Frenchmen had it in their faces, and the English in their backs.
Page 90 - Genoese cross-bowmen, but they were quite fatigued, having marched on foot that day six leagues, completely armed and with their cross-bows. They told the constable they were not in a fit condition to do any great things that day in battle. The earl of Alenc.on, hearing this, said, "This is what one gets by employing such scoundrels, who fall off when there is any need of them.

About the author (2010)

Norman F. Cantor (1929–2004) was a professor of history, sociology, and comparative literature at New York University. Among his many academic honors are appointments as a Rhodes Scholar, Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellow at Princeton University, and Fulbright Professor at Tel Aviv University. He was nominated for the NBCC Award for Inventing the Middle Ages.

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